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Homeless Man Sues Calif. Hospital Over Patient Dumping

Posted Jan 17, 2008 2:42 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A paraplegic man has filed a tort claim against a Southern California hospital, seeking damages for being dumped, without a wheelchair, on a local skid row in a condition in which he allegedly could not care properly for himself.

The February incident, which was recorded on a nearby video camera as Gabino Olvera reportedly crawled in the street in a soiled hospital gown carrying a colostomy bag, sparked public outrage. Citing a state law barring unfair business practices, the Los Angeles city attorney filed a subsequent suit against Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and another hospital accused of patient dumping, seeking to put an end to such incidents, as discussed in an earlier ABAJournal.com post.

Now, however, Olvera, 41, has filed another suit against the medical center. The Los Angeles Superior Court case, which names as an additional defendant Empire Transportation Inc., the ambulance service which allegedly transported him, seeks compensatory and punitive damages for elder abuse, negligence and infliction of emotional distress, reports the Los Angeles Times. It also asks the court to issue an injunction prohibiting such "homeless dumping" in the future.

The suit contends that the medical center didn't properly treat Olvera—who was taken there after an auto accident—for a urinary tract infection, and also didn't adequately take into account his apparent mental illness before releasing him.

The medical center reportedly has previously admitted that Olvera was left on the street by a third-party ambulance service driver, in violation of its policy, but says he was appropriately treated as a patient.

State legislators introduced a bill last year to make patient dumping a crime, according to the Associated Press.

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